Turkey's efforts are ongoing to build facilities to service jointly-developed F-35 fighter jets, the country's defense industries chief said yesterday.
İsmail Demir, the head of the Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), announced on Twitter that they are still building the facilities for the installation and maintenance of various parts for the jointly-developed F-35 fighter jets in the central province of Eskişehir. "As an F-35 project partner, we are continuing to fulfill all of our responsibilities and share of work," Demir said.
Within the scope of the project, the construction of the hangar established at the 1st Air Supply Maintenance Center Command in Eskişehir for the installation and maintenance of F-135 engines has been completed.
The facility will provide installation and test activities of the engines for the F-35 jets which will enter Turkey's inventory. Also, F-135 engine maintenance, repair and testing services will be given for the European countries using F-35 jets. Established within the scope of the Joint Strike Forces (JSF) project – considered the biggest defense systems supply project in the world – the facility will be the first such center established in the European region. The F-35 Program Office announced in 2014 that the first engine maintenance center for the jet would be built in Turkey. In addition, it allocated for an equal number of engines to be produced in Turkey as those purchased by the country. Construction of the facility was completed on April 23. The multinational F-35 stealth fighter program continues with the participation of eight countries, all members of NATO, including Turkey.
In June 2018, Turkey received the first two F-35 fighter jets in a ceremony held in Texas, and Turkish pilots started training at Luke Air Base in Arizona. Despite several attempts by U.S. senators to halt the delivery, Turkey was delivered two more jets in April and now has four jets in its possession with four pilots continuing their training program. The jets will remain in the U.S. for training activities and are expected to be shipped to Turkey by November this year. The country is expected to receive six F-35 jets by 2020. It will receive the remaining 24 jets in the first 30-jet order package by 2024. The country initially ordered 100 F-35 jets. Turkey has been a partner in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project consortium since 1999. The Turkish defense industry has been playing an active role in the production of the fifth generation F-35 fighter jets, and the country has spent $12 billion on the project so far.